As Deng's capitalist reforms deepened in the ensuing three decades and business relationships were formed with companies from abroad, ever more corporate jets from North and South America and Europe began to visit China. According to Jimmy Young, a flight planner and handler for Universal Weather and Aviation who is based in the PRC, there were close to 3,000 general aviation flights in and out of Shanghai alone in 2010, increasing to 3,400 movements last year, an indication of steady growth in business aviation traffic even during the current recession. In addition, “there are a lot of domestic operators based at Shanghai now,” Young said recently, “like Deer Jet, Air China [an airline that manages a half dozen locally based business jets] and BAA out of Hong Kong.”

Further, thanks largely to the world expo that ran for six months in 2010 at Shanghai, attracting some 73 million people, there are now two destination airports available to business aviation at the city, both designated as ports of entry and equipped with ground support facilities: Shanghai Pudong International Airport (ZSPD) and Hongqiao (ZSSS, pronounced “HongCHOW”). Expecting an influx of foreign business jets for the expo and seeing a need for ATC to separate commercial and general aviation traffic, shunting the latter to Hongqiao, hitherto mostly reserved for domestic airline operations, planners elected to invest millions of yuan-renminbi (or RNBs, China's currency) in redeveloping the airport. This took the form of laying down a second runway and entering into a joint venture with Hawker Pacific to establish an executive-level FBO at the airport, which opened in time for the show.

“It is a full-service facility with hangars and MRO services for the Hawker 4000, in-house CIQ [customs, immigration and quarantine], all very similar to Western facilities,” Young said. Hongqiao is the original airport at Shanghai, its origins dating from 1923 (built on the remains of an earlier military field commissioned in 1907). When Shanghai Pudong International opened in 1999, most international traffic was transferred from Hongqiao to the new airport; however, with completion of the Hawker Pacific FBO, the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) allowed international general aviation and a handful of international airlines to use the field again. “Business aviation operators are now using it as a better alternative to Pudong,” Young said.

While there's no FBO at Pudong, the big airport does host a VIP lounge, a common facility at PRC airports, constructed for the use of government officials. No parking is available at the VIP terminal, requiring passengers and crew to be bused to the lounge, which can take as long as 30 min. depending on where ground control directs the aircraft to park. “At Hongqiao, of course, there is parking right in front of the Hawker Pacific FBO,” Young said. Not surprisingly, then, Hongqiao has become more popular than Pudong as a business aviation destination. “Also, the in-house CIQ is a popular attraction to the airport,” Young pointed out, “which additionally is located only 20 min. from Shanghai's downtown business area by surface transportation.”

The Hongqiao Airport Authority claims business aviation traffic is currently divided 55/45 between Hongqiao and Pudong. A large proportion of that traffic represents domestic operators, Young clarified. As an indication of the airport's growing popularity, the NBAA's Asian Business Aviation Conference and Exposition (ABACE) will be held at Hongqiao next month.

Hongqiao (ZSSS) has parallel runways, 18L/36R and 18R/36L, both measuring 11,155 ft. Elevation is 10 ft. The fourth busiest airport in China and a hub for four domestic airlines, Hongqiao handled more than 31 million passengers in 2010, a 25% increase over 2009. In its preparation for the world expo, more than 15 billion RNB were invested in Hongqiao's upgrades, including the new second runway.

Shanghai Pudong (XSPD) now has three runways as its share of the world expo largesse, 16/34, 12,467 ft.; 17L/35R, 13,123 ft.; and 17R/35L, 11,155 ft. Its elevation is 13 ft. With domestic airlines now confined to Hongqiao, Pudong is exclusively international. XSPD served more than 40.5 million passengers in 2010. Its master plan calls for the construction of a third passenger terminal, a satellite terminal and two additional runways by 2015.